General Discussion

Your moment of discover/ I knew I was a Chowhound when...


Live your best food life.

Sign up to discover your next favorite restaurant, recipe, or cookbook in the largest community of knowledgeable food enthusiasts.
Sign Up For Free
General Discussion 45

Your moment of discover/ I knew I was a Chowhound when...

Brandon Nelson | Nov 13, 2001 04:15 PM


I grew up in a very whitebread culinary environment. my mother came from a family where she was the oldest of 5. Her option at home , chore wise, was make dinner or watch her siblings. She always chose the latter. She was wonderfully prepared to be a mother, but poorly prepared to be a home cook.

She did her best. We ate a lot of "goulash" ( no not as inspiring as it sounds), "sloppy joes", burgers, grilled chicken, tacos (gringo style), minestone soup, and pepper steak. She never met a veggie she couldn't overcook. Meat was cooked well done. Period.

When we ate out we did so at the most suburbanite friendly places. I was the child with the adventurous palette that would eat most anything. My younger sister was a fussy eater. Since her tastes we difficult, her prefferences dominated.

At the tender age of 14 I found myself faced with the greatest challenge of my life. I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. 2 surgeries in the course of 6 weeks trimmed my already lanky 6 foot from to a gaunt 112 lbs. Recuperation led to a lot of creative ways to kill boredom. Cooking shows offered a break from M.A.S.H. re-runs. The kitchen offered me a place to burn some cabin crazy creative energy, and add a few lbs back to my skinny frame. I fell in love with cooking. I fact I realized I always had loved being in the kitchen. My first memories are of afternoons spent making chocolate chip cookies with mom (I was about 2)

When I was 15 I met Jose'. I didn't know that I was in the infancy of a lifelong friendship. I just liked the guy. He was the Butch Cassidey, outgoing and social, to my measured quiet Sundance Kid. He took great amusement in the foods I was used to. Being mexican born he found them lacking.

One day he talked me into having dinner in a local taqeria with him. Not the Mexican food I was used to. No nordic high school kids busing tables. No slurpy machine marguaritas. He suggested, more of a challenge, "Let me order for us, I won't tell you what it is until you try it!" I was game. He ordered in Spanish, and the woman waiting on us replied in Spanish. I couldn't miss the sly smile. She was in on it now. We mowed our way through tacos that night as only teenaged boys can. We washed them down with soda I had never seen before. Jose' loved it. He half expected I would jump out of my skin when I leaned I had been eating tongue (lengua) or cheek (cabeza). I was in heaven. I made myself a promise that I would seek out food that gave me this much enjoyment regularly. I would find those great holes in the wall. I would cull needles from great mounds of hay.

Years later I read a brief magazine articles about a website started by a New York food writer. A place dedicated to the delicious.

You now know the events that brought me here. Care to share yours?


Want to stay up to date with this post?